By LEWIS SPEARMAN
CROSBY Precinct 3 Constable Ken Jones concentrated his deputies here last Thursday into Friday when a local developer and local charities complained about multiple incidents of thieves stealing copper air conditioning coils and wire.
The thefts cause enormously expensive damage but gross little for the perpetrators. Among victims were Crosby Square and the Crosby Fairgrounds have twice been burglarized for copper.
The night began with a peaceful cruise through Newport with Deputy Genghini after a reported prowling outside someones house. We spotted a four legged animal dog or deer hard to say, nearby the location. This reporter encountered Genghini after Hurricane Rita blew through town to make a report of a burglarized vehicle, I then thought him professional and amicable. Later, learning mostly amicable but alert to any statement discrepancy and determined to get to the truth.
At about 12:30 a.m., a rendezvous with Patrol Supervisor Sergeant Jasen Rabalais introduced me to many of the men that would provide the stakeout and wee hours protection for the East Harris County areas. Rabalais leadership is immediately apparent. He seems impatient to get tasks done and confident while forming strategy and tactics. Imparting an eagerness to put the plans into action and disperse deputies, he seemingly by instinct, but possibly by experience assigns tasks to deputies to their interests and strengths.
Unmarked cars including the nights best performing birddog from Precinct 2 (in a vehicle completely common to the area) staked out previous victims and likely targets. Witnesses had alerted deputies to a description of an older model pickup.
An hour passed riding and peering at Crosbys business back doors.
Rabalais eagerness had just prompted him to say, You might have to take more than one trip around with us to see anything to report. It looks like its going to be a dull night.
Suddenly, the birddog barked. Behind Arlens Market an older model Ford had been spotted and a man had exited the vehicle and was luring near the rear entrance. The ride from McDonalds to Crosby Square didnt take as long as usual and was fun punctuated by a grey truck that loped into our lane even as the bar lights were flashing.
A white Ford truck pulled gingerly onto FM 2100 southbound just as Rabalais was passing North. On cue, three patrol vehicles were on the scene. The patrol car instantly rotates and we too are headed southbound, just behind the truck.
Just as gently as it came out from behind the store, the truck pulled to the right and hands jut from the lowered window.
Bet hes done time been through this before, said Rabalais.
Next deputies are in position and Rabalais is on foot and at the truck door. Couldnt say what the first few words exchanged were but I could tell Rabalais and Genghini were tired of hearing it. Later statements would indicate that the stated reason for being behind the store had to do with getting boxes to move.
Rabalais found a .45 caliber bullet in the suspects pocket.
Rabalais said, You best tell me now if Im about to find a gun in that truck.
The suspect answered, I dont have nothing to do with anything you might find in that truck.
Recon that was suspicious?
In a few seconds, Rabalais was pulling an Italian made .45 caliber pistol from the truck and the suspect was then ushered to Genghinis awaiting patrol car. Deputies already knew that the suspect had been convicted of a felony in 2005 when they ran his license through T.E.C.L.O.S.E.
Next from the truck, deputies took a local woman and brought her to Rabalais car. Her statements were that she hardly knew the suspect and was simply helping him pack to move.
The deputies had the same incredulous look as before, now with a touch of sadness.
The deputies were now inventorying the contents of the truck, they did find empty boxes and there were two generators, at least one with the serial number scratched off. In the dash cigarette tray, they made another find. A cigarette pack had a small bag in it. Inside that bag was what appeared to be half a Zanex, some marijuana and another big white pill.
Sergeant Rabalais now questioned if the woman had known that the suspect might be a drug user, she responded at first that she didnt. But would slightly amend that later after the suspect took full responsibility for the gun and the drugs.
She was given a courtesy ride to Baytown, had she said she knew of the suspects drug usage, she might have been allowed to drive the truck home if the suspect had given permission.
Deputy William Bearden busted some methamphetamine, needles and two pistols after he spotted an improperly displayed license plate after 2:30 a.m. The driver seemed extremely nervous as Deputy Bearden approached the window. The driver consented to a search and the deputy found a flashlight behind the driver seat. When the officer shook the flashlight, the sound was not of sliding batteries. When he opened the light two pistols fell out … possible clue….
Shortly thereafter, he located some hypodermic needles inside the car. Then, the search began in earnest for drugs. In the door panel on the drivers side, a small black bag held more needles, a bizarre looking smoking devise and an estimated 2 grams of what tested to be methamphetamine.
Deputy Jose Quintanilla was making his patrol back to U.S. 90 when a driver began following him too closely with his highbeams glaring.
After making the traffic stop, Quintanilla smelled the odor of burning rope boiling out of the car. Suspecting that the smell might be marijuana, he found a small red bag filled with different sized bags of what appears to be marijuana. An inventory of the drivers wallet revealed what appears to be cocaine.
The driver had told Quintanilla that he worked as a teacher for mentally challenged children.
Without naming the suspects, the principle idea is that quiet Northeast Harris County has a late night subculture that is entirely different from the daylight. A sudden jump in the price of copper is the only verifiable predicate to the rash of thefts but one has to wonder what would happen if there were no drug interdiction.
By LEWIS SPEARMAN